Thieves target nurseries in Waimanalo - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Thieves target nurseries in Waimanalo

Clifford Migita Clifford Migita

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

WAIMANALO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nursery owners in Waimanalo are frustrated. Thieves have gone on a stealing spree swiping everything from expensive plants to equipment and in this economy the crimes are coming at the worst time.

In the past month half a dozen nurseries in Waimanalo have been victim of theft. One of the popular items that have been stolen are these red ceiling wax palms. This palm is attractive to buyers because of its color and it's attractive to thieves because of its cost. One five gallon palm that's been growing for years can go for more than $100 each. Last weekend 20 were stolen in one night.

"It's a double whammy, you're struggling to survive and then somebody takes your plants that took so long to grow," said Clifford Migita, Waimanalo Agricultural Association President.

Migita is speaking on behalf of nursery owners who didn't want to be identified for fear more thieves would target them. He says nurseries have been robbed of plants, sprinklers and various equipment.

"One nursery they put up a six foot chain link fence and (thieves) climbed over the fence or they cut the fence. If they want it they'll get it," said Migita.

He says the crime goes in cycles. Sometimes there's a long stretch with no incidents. Then there is a rash all at once, as if the thief got a landscaping job and is trying to fill it illegally.

"They know what they want so they must be casing the place," said Migita. "They walk in a nursery 100 feet and they bypass 90 feet of other plants."

Police say they have increased patrols in Waimanalo, but they don't have any suspects.

In the past nursery owners formed a mobile patrol where they took turns voluntarily patrolling each other's properties in the middle of the night. It seemed to work. Now there's talk about doing that again.

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